By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
There’s a phrase known as “making a good first impression.”
Alpine Academy racer Christian Lundgaard may be 12th in the Formula 2 standings, but has already wowed people in the NTT IndyCar Series.
In just a single day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Lundgaard was blistering fast. Right out of the gate, the No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda Honda was seventh-fastest in practice. The Danish racer would then back it up with an even more impressive fourth-place qualifying spot for Saturday’s Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix.
The third RLL driver was the only one from the camp to make the Firestone Fast 12, and was just 0.03 seconds shy of Pato O’Ward’s pole time.
“I didn’t expect to be here now when I left home,” Lundgaard said in a post-qualifying press conference. “I know my family is asleep right now. I guess they will have a heart attack when they wake up in the morning.”
Like many drivers who come from the world of grand prix racing, Lundgaard has already appreciated the American culture. More so that he hasn’t seen many folks in the stands or paddock during the pandemic in F2.
“I’m just super happy to be here,” he said. “I’m enjoying every second of it. It’s so different to Europe. Just seeing fans is amazing. We’ve had one or two races this year in Formula 2 where we’ve had fans. It’s only half capacity. So to come here and see so many people near us is just awesome.”
Prior to arriving at Indy, Lundgaard only had a single test session in an Indy car, which took place at Barber Motorsports Park. Now, he’ll be a part of a 28-car field at the world’s most famous race course.
That in mind, the question will be how the 85-lap odyssey will unfold for the 20-year-old debutant? Will there be any sort of pressure to live up to the expectations that people unexpectedly benchmarked?
“I wouldn’t say I ever was really concerned,” he said. “For F2, we do three races a weekend, two sprint races of 45 minutes, then a feature race of an hour. I mean, F2 and IndyCar is pretty similar in terms of steering weight. Physically, I’m fine.
“But to put it up to a challenge in a two-hour race, I mean, after doing practice, I definitely wasn’t concerned for tomorrow’s race.”
Live coverage of the 12th round of the NTT IndyCar Series championship begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Rinus VeeKay is the most recent winner on the grand prix circuit.